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Oregon Ballot Measure 16.

Ballot Measure 16 allows terminally ill adults to obtain prescriptions for lethal drugs. This measure would allow an informed and capable adult resident of Oregon, who is terminally ill and within six months of death, to voluntarily request a prescription for medication to take his or her own life. The measure allows a physician to prescribe a lethal dose of medication when conditions of the act are met.

The process begins when the patient makes the request of his or her physician who shall:

* Determine if the patient is terminally ill, is capable of making health-care decisions, and has made the request voluntarily.

* Inform the patient of his or her diagnosis, the risks and results of taking the medication, and alternatives, including comfort care, hospice care, and pain control.

* Ask that the patient notify next of kin, but not deny the request if the patient declines or is unable to notify next

* Inform the patient that he or she has an opportunity to rescind the request at any time, in any manner.

* Refer the patient for counseling, if appropriate.

* Refer the patient to a consulting physician.

A consulting physician, who is qualified by specialty or experience, must confirm the diagnosis and determine that the patient is capable and acting voluntarily.

If either physician believes that the patient might be suffering from a psychiatric or psychological disorder or from depression causing impaired judgment, the physician must refer the patient to a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist for counseling. The psychiatrist or psychologist must determine that the patient does not suffer from such a disorder before medication may be prescribed.

The measure requires two oral and one written request. The written request requires two witnesses attesting that the patient is acting voluntarily. At least one of the witnesses must not be a relative or heir of the patient.

At least 15 days must pass from the time of the initial oral request and 48 hours must pass from the time of the written request before the prescription may be written.

Before writing the prescription, the attending physician must again verify that the patient is making a voluntary and informed request and offer the patient the opportunity to rescind the request.

Additional provisions of the measure are:

* Participating physicians must be licensed in Oregon.

* The physician must document in the patient's medical record that all requirements have been met. The State Health Division must review samples of those records and make statistical reports available to the public.

Those who comply with the requirements of the measure are protected from prosecution and professional discipline.

Any physician or health-care provider may decline to participate.

This measure does not authorize lethal injection, mercy killings, or active euthanasia. Actions taken in accordance with the measure shall not constitute suicide, assisted suicide, mercy killing, or homicide under the law.

Anyone coercing or exerting undue influence on a patient to request medication, or altering or forging a request for medication, is guilty of a Class A felony.
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Copyright 1994, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Death With Dignity; allows a lethal prescription to be written; appeared on the 1994 ballot
Publication:The Humanist
Article Type:Transcript
Date:Nov 1, 1994
Previous Article:Suicide and the law.
Next Article:Death, nothingness, and subjectivity.

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